Why centralising your CX workflows makes sense in a new SaaS platform

You’ve built a new SaaS system, with a web and mobile front end, and in the modern world it’s inevitable that you’ve also integrated with several other services. Integration points often include payment collection, geolocation, customer email and push communication services. But often, a Customer Experience and Support management system isn’t one of these integrations.

It’s also possible even in the smallest of companies, that you’ve already got multiple customer-facing interfaces, for example you may have kept your company website separate from your SaaS platform WebUI.

You’ve tried your best to handle every error, to compensate where transactions go awry, and to retry automatically if it looks like an issue could be transient.

Despite your best efforts, there are always a few corner cases which can’t be handled automatically (or at least, the law of diminishing returns may mean that it’s not worthwhile to handle all corner cases automatically). Escalation to a real human is needed, whilst keeping the customer in the loop.

Examples include:

  • A user hits a snag with your product and can’t complete an action (this is more common than you might think, especially when we consider that modern external integrations use REST and are not ACID-transactional).
  • Automated or batch run processes fail, e.g. payment collections or document generation.
  • An unhandled or unexpected exception occurs, possibly impacting user experience.
  • The pressure to get to market ASAP means you’re missing a less common feature, for instance future-dated subscription cancellations. In the interim, you’re scheduling a task in your calendar to manually cancel the customer’s subscription on the date of expiry.

As a fledgling start-up, it’s rare to have a dedicated first-line support team in place at the outset. The initial approach to solving issues is often to alert nearly everyone in the team, and then begin with the triage and resolution process, using existing tools such as Slack, other IM, or internal email.

Common 1st version methods of alerting the team include:

  • Logging issues and then building queries and filters to detect problems (the DevOps route).
  • Running exception reports from your database (e.g. looking for data which is in an inconsistent or incomplete state).
  • Sending cryptic emails in an error handler with stack traces to the development team (which can lead to 1000’s of repeated emails during an outage).
  • In some cases, building your own tracking and workflow systems into your SaaS product (but could your dev time have been spent more productively elsewhere?).

As we add more and more different channels of ‘alerting’, there’s always a good chance that something will be forgotten, and customers will be left dangling.

At Vanestum Consulting, we recommend that you consider centralising these kinds of customer facing workflows by integrating into a dedicated, centralised CX platform such as Zendesk, and then allowing workflows like support, payment error, or an enquiry to be completed in a funneled and consistent manner.

The benefits of using an established, low-cost, cloud-based software platform include:

  • Centralising allows a single point of handling of all issues.
  • Easier prioritisation, routing and assignment of tasks.
  • Grouping of related issues (e.g. dealing with an outage of a dependency), and allowing bulk-resolution of same.
  • A single place to monitor and manage work queues, including monitoring SLA levels and bottlenecks.
  • A consistent channel for tracking issues and communicating with customers (direct emails are notoriously difficult).
  • Setting up of an internal support knowledge base (e.g. known issue resolution / workarounds).
  • Creating an external customer facing knowledge base, allowing customers to independently self-resolve the issue.
  • Outsourcing of your first line support! By using a known support platform, it’s much easier to outsource support to an established partner, who can quickly be upskilled on your new system.